This article from Pilz discusses how production machinery can be protected from cyberattacks without compromising safety.
In a smart factory it should be possible to reconfigure modular plants quickly and flexibly or to rearrange the way they are combined. The safety system validation must be able to cope with this (last-minute) flexibility. A static review of functional safety – ie hard stopping the machine in an emergency – and security is no longer relevant, therefore.
Concepts based on a holistic view of changing automation processes and functional safety requirements provide a modern alternative. Safety becomes a cross-device function. With this dynamic approach, processes can be safely controlled without always having to interrupt them immediately each time there is a fault. For this purpose, functional safety must be considered from the start when planning automation projects. If not, it may be necessary to modify retrospectively the sequence of individual production steps or of a whole process. This prevents optimum solutions from being implemented and also entails considerable expense.
Cyberattacks on the increase
In contrast to functional safety, the challenge for security is that security mechanisms constantly need to be adapted to the actual threat. Security loopholes can adversely affect production with all its functional elements. Safety applications can only be protected from threats from the cyberworld by combining various measures and security guidelines, with strict compliance by all those involved.